History brief – M. F. Cusack on Martin Luther


Matthew 18

NKJV

21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. 23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.

28 “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. 32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.

35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”


Portrait of Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach, via Wikimedia Commons

Martin has remained a controversial man, loved and forgiven, hated and reviled. His book, The Bondage of the Will, has been very helpful to me as a former Roman Catholic. My prayer is that we all come down on the side of love and forgiveness, remembering our own failures and sins.


 

From: The Black Pope, A History of the Jesuits, Chapter II – Martin Luther and Some of the Causes of the German Reformation, by M. F. Cusack (Formerly the Nun of Kenmare)

There is no doubt that Luther felt very keenly the false accusations which were brought against him, not only by his enemies, but even by those who ought to have been his warmest supporters. The unity of Rome has always been its strength. The disunion of Christians has been the greatest hindrance to the spread of the Gospel. As the end of time draws nearer may we not hope that Christians will draw nearer to each other, and to their coming Lord.

There are few things more touching than the appeal which Luther makes to posterity for the justice which was denied to him even by some of his Christian contemporaries. He says: “I am yet alive, and I write books, and I preach sermons, and read public lectures every day, and yet virulent minded men, adversaries and false brethren, allege my own doctrines against me, and represent me as saying what I do not say, and as believing what I do not believe. If they do this while I am alive, and while I look on and hear it, what will they do when I am dead. But how is it possible for me to stop all the mouths of the evil speakers, especially of those who set themselves to pervert my words.” No doubt Luther must have often felt that it was indeed hard for him to suffer from both sides: from the Roman Catholics against whose errors he was fighting so earnestly, and from those professing Christians, who, through jealousy or ignorance, were ever ready to attack him. Surely the path of an earnest reformer is ever one of pain. It should be said, however, that the best and noblest men of his day were his defenders, but this did not lessen the guilt of those who added to his already heavy burdens. Erasmus has left it on record that the better any man was the more he appreciated the writings of Luther. In the same letter, which is addressed to archbishop Albert, he says: “that he (Luther) was accounted a good man even by his enemies, and that the best men were least offended by his writings.” Even the Roman Catholic historian Lingard admits that Luther’s morals were unexceptional. He says: “he (Staupitz) selected a young friar of his own order, Martin Luther, a man of an ardent mind, and unimpeached morals, and of strong prejudices against the Church of Rome.” Luther’s last words have been placed on record, and with these words we shall conclude this part of our subject. “O my Father, God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of all consolation, I thank Thee for having revealed to me Thy well beloved Son, in whom I believe, whom I have preached and acknowledged, loved and celebrated, and whom the Pope and the impious persecute. I commend to Thee my soul. O Jesus Christ my Lord, I am quitting this earthly body. I am leaving this life, but I know that I shall abide eternally with Thee.” And so Luther was gathered to his fathers, and rests in the unchanging peace of God. Rome could no more threaten him with its thunders, nor could the mistrust and unkindness of false friends vex his tender heart. And his work follows him. It is still the same because it is Divine. And those who worked with him and those who worked against him know now that his teaching was the teaching of the Spirit, and that with him was the grace of the Father, the Son, and the Holy ghost.


 

Historical insights – The origin of the Reformation


Hermann Schweder, painter - Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley

Hermann Schweder, painter – Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley

Christianity on the eve of the Reformation was undoubtedly popular and lively, but that does not mean it was healthy or biblical. In fact, if all the people had been hungering for the kind of change the Reformation would bring, it would suggest that the Reformation was little more than a natural social movement, a moral clean-up. This the Reformers always denied. It was not a popular moral reform; it was a challenge to the very heart of Christianity. They claimed that God’s word was breaking in to change the world; it was unexpected, and went right against the grain; it was not a human work but a divine bombshell.”

Michael Reeves, The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering The Heart Of The Reformation, B&H Publishing, 2010, p. 25.


Psalm 98

A Song of Praise to the Lord for His Salvation and Judgment

A Psalm.

98 Oh, sing to the Lord a new song!
For He has done marvelous things;
His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory.
The Lord has made known His salvation;
His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations.


 

Historic documents – Commemorating the 500th Anniversary – Luther’s “28 theses”


HEIDELBERG

. . . man’s will has some liberty to choose civil righteousness, and to work things subject to reason. But it has no power, without the Holy Ghost, to work the righteousness of God, that is, spiritual righteousness. . . – Augsburg Confession, Art.  18: Of Free Will


The Reformation must be important – if it isn’t, then a lot of paper and ink, and human lives, have been wasted. For Rome, it must be doubly important because they expend so much energy on ecumenical efforts, encouraging us “separated brethren” to return to the ancient fold.

Here is a document written and disputed not quite a year from the day – October 31, 1517 – on which Luther posted his famous invitation to debate the 95 Theses. People are getting ready for – and already engaged in – a huge celebration of the 500th anniversary of this watershed event, and Pope Francis has commandeered a decided role in it. Perhaps he has climbed into the driver’s seat! Not only that, but Luther appears to have been rehabilitated by Rome; no longer a heretic, he is called a son of the Church. To me this is unjust, because though Luther left reluctantly at first, he left permanently, even ensuring that there were witnesses to record his dying words so that Rome wouldn’t be able to say he had recanted and returned to her on his deathbed. I know that the Lord will deal with all of this someday – Praise Him forevermore!

The Heidelberg Disputation was another step Luther took in his departure from Rome.


Acts 17

30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

Psalm 96:13

13 For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth.
He shall judge the world with righteousness,
And the peoples with His truth.


Editor’s Introduction

Following Luther’s proposal for a disputation on the subject of indulgences, the Augustinian Order, to which Luther belonged, was generally supportive of his views. The head of the order in Germany, Johannes Staupitz, called for a formal disputation to be attended by the leadership of the order, in which Luther would be provided a chance to expand upon his concern. The disputation took place at the meeting of the Augustinian Order, in Heidelberg, in April 1518. Luther’s opponents had been hopeful that Luther would be silenced, but Staupitz wanted to give Luther a fair hearing, since he was generally sympathetic with Luther’s views. At the meeting, Luther put forward a “theology of the cross” as opposed to a “theology of glory.” The disputation is, in many ways, more significant than the 95 theses, for they advanced Luther’s growing realization that the theology of late Medieval Roman Catholicism was fundamentally and essentially at odds with Biblical theology. As a result of the disputation, John Eck proposed a debate between himself and representatives of Luther’s views, which was held in Leipzig from June to July, 1519.

The Heidelberg Disputation

“Brother Martin Luther, Master of Sacred Theology, will preside, and Brother Leonhard Beyer, Master of Arts and Philosophy, will defend the following theses before the Augustinians of this renowned city of Heidelberg in the customary place, on April 26th 1518.

THEOLOGICAL THESES

Distrusting completely our own wisdom, according to that counsel of the Holy Spirit, »Do not rely on your own insight« (Prov. 3:5), we humbly present to the judgment of all those who wish to be here these theological paradoxes, so that it may become clear whether they have been deduced well or poorly from St. Paul, the especially chosen vessel and instrument of Christ, and also from St. Augustine, his most trustworthy interpreter.

  1. The law of God, the most salutary doctrine of life, cannot advance man on his way to righteousness, but rather hinders him.
  2. Much less can human works, which are done over and over again with the aid of natural precepts, so to speak, lead to that end.
  3. Although the works of man always seem attractive and good, they are nevertheless likely to be mortal sins.
  4. Although the works of God are always unattractive and appear evil, they are nevertheless really eternal merits.
  5. The works of men are thus not mortal sins (we speak of works which are apparently good), as though they were crimes.
  6. The works of God (we speak of those which he does through man) are thus not merits, as though they were sinless.
  7. The works of the righteous would be mortal sins if they would not be feared as mortal sins by the righteous themselves out of pious fear of God.
  8. By so much more are the works of man mortal sins when they are done without fear and in unadulterated, evil self-security.
  9. To say that works without Christ are dead, but not mortal, appears to constitute a perilous surrender of the fear of God.
  10. Indeed, it is very difficult to see how a work can be dead and at the same time not a harmful and mortal sin.
  11. Arrogance cannot be avoided or true hope be present unless the judgment of condemnation is feared in every work.
  12. In the sight of God sins are then truly venial when they are feared by men to be mortal.
  13. Free will, after the fall, exists in name only, and as long as it does what it is able to do, it commits a mortal sin.
  14. Free will, after the fall, has power to do good only in a passive capacity, but it can always do evil in an active capacity.
  15. Nor could free will remain in a state of innocence, much less do good, in an active capacity, but only in its passive capacity.
  16. The person who believes that he can obtain grace by doing what is in him adds sin to sin so that he becomes doubly guilty.
  17. Nor does speaking in this manner give cause for despair, but for arousing the desire to humble oneself and seek the grace of Christ.
  18. It is certain that man must utterly despair of his own ability before he is prepared to receive the grace of Christ.
  19. That person does not deserve to be called a theologian who looks upon the »invisible« things of God as though they were clearly »perceptible in those things which have actually happened« (Rom. 1:20; cf. 1 Cor 1:21-25),
  20. he deserves to be called a theologian, however, who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross.
  21. A theology of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theology of the cross calls the thing what it actually is.
  22. That wisdom which sees the invisible things of God in works as perceived by man is completely puffed up, blinded, and hardened.
  23. The »law brings the wrath« of God (Rom. 4:15), kills, reviles, accuses, judges, and condemns everything that is not in Christ.
  24. Yet that wisdom is not of itself evil, nor is the law to be evaded; but without the theology of the cross man misuses the best in the worst manner.
  25. He is not righteous who does much, but he who, without work, believes much in Christ.
  26. The law says, »do this«, and it is never done. Grace says, »believe in this«, and everything is already done.
  27. Actually one should call the work of Christ an acting work (operans) and our work an accomplished work (operatum), and thus an accomplished work pleasing to God by the grace of the acting work.
  28. The love of God does not find, but creates, that which is pleasing to it. The love of man comes into being through that which is pleasing to it.”

 

PROOFS OF THE THESES are to be found here:

http://bookofconcord.org/heidelberg.php

(Debated in the Chapter at Heidelberg, May 1518, A.D.)


 

Go read! W. Robert Godfrey


Why Did the Reformers Conclude that Reform Was Urgent and Necessary in the 16th Century?

W. Robert Godfrey

Oct 29, 2016

Ligonier.org

http://www.ligonier.org/blog/reformers-conclude-reform-urgent/

sp

“The church is always in need of reform. Even in the New Testament, we see Jesus rebuking Peter, and we see Paul correcting the Corinthians. Since Christians are always sinners, the church will always need reform. The question for us, however, is when does the need become an absolute necessity?

“The great Reformers of the sixteenth century concluded that reform was urgent and necessary in their day. In pursuing reform for the church, they rejected two extremes. On the one hand, they rejected those who insisted that the church was essentially sound and needed no fundamental changes. On the other hand, they rejected those who believed that they could create a perfect church in every detail. The church needed fundamental reform, but it would also always need to be reforming itself. The Reformers reached these conclusions from their study of the Bible. . .”

sp


2 Chronicles 34

NKJV

Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.

For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David; and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images. They broke down the altars of the Baals in his presence, and the incense altars which were above them he cut down; and the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images he broke in pieces, and made dust of them and scattered it on the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. He also burned the bones of the priests on their altars, and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem. And so he did in the cities of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, as far as Naphtali and all around, with axes. When he had broken down the altars and the wooden images, had beaten the carved images into powder, and cut down all the incense altars throughout all the land of Israel, he returned to Jerusalem.

Hilkiah Finds the Book of the Law

In the eighteenth year of his reign, when he had purged the land and the temple, he sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, Maaseiah the governor of the city, and Joah the son of Joahaz the recorder, to repair the house of the Lord his God. When they came to Hilkiah the high priest, they delivered the money that was brought into the house of God, which the Levites who kept the doors had gathered from the hand of Manasseh and Ephraim, from all the remnant of Israel, from all Judah and Benjamin, and which they had brought back to Jerusalem. 10 Then they put it in the hand of the foremen who had the oversight of the house of the Lord; and they gave it to the workmen who worked in the house of the Lord, to repair and restore the house. 11 They gave it to the craftsmen and builders to buy hewn stone and timber for beams, and to floor the houses which the kings of Judah had destroyed. 12 And the men did the work faithfully. Their overseers were Jahath and Obadiah the Levites, of the sons of Merari, and Zechariah and Meshullam, of the sons of the Kohathites, to supervise. Others of the Levites, all of whom were skillful with instruments of music, 13 were  over the burden bearers and were overseers of all who did work in any kind of service. And some of the Levites were scribes, officers, and gatekeepers.

14 Now when they brought out the money that was brought into the house of the Lord, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord given by Moses. 15 Then Hilkiah answered and said to Shaphan the scribe, “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan. 16 So Shaphan carried the book to the king, bringing the king word, saying, “All that was committed to your servants they are doing. 17 And they have gathered the money that was found in the house of the Lord, and have delivered it into the hand of the overseers and the workmen.” 18 Then Shaphan the scribe told the king, saying, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it before the king.

19 Thus it happened, when the king heard the words of the Law, that he tore his clothes. 20 Then the king commanded Hilkiah, Ahikam the son of Shaphan, Abdon the son of Micah, Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah a servant of the king, saying, 21 “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for those who are left in Israel and Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found; for great is the wrath of the Lord that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the Lord, to do according to all that is written in this book.”

22 So Hilkiah and those the king had appointed went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tokhath, the son of Hasrah, keeper of the wardrobe. (She dwelt in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter.) And they spoke to her to that effect.

23 Then she answered them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Tell the man who sent you to Me, 24 “Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will bring calamity on this place and on its inhabitants, all the curses that are written in the book which they have read before the king of Judah, 25 because they have forsaken Me and burned incense to other gods, that they might provoke Me to anger with all the works of their hands. Therefore My wrath will be poured out on this place, and not be quenched.’”’ 26 But as for the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, in this manner you shall speak to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God of Israel: “Concerning the words which you have heard— 27 because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and against its inhabitants, and you humbled yourself before Me, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you,” says the Lord28 “Surely I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place and its inhabitants.”’” So they brought back word to the king.

Josiah Restores True Worship

29 Then the king sent and gathered all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 30 The king went up to the house of the Lord, with all the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem—the priests and the Levites, and all the people, great and small. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant which had been found in the house of the Lord. 31 Then the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book. 32 And he made all who were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin take a stand. So the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers. 33 Thus Josiah removed all the abominations from all the country that belonged to the children of Israel, and made all who were present in Israel diligently serve the Lord their God. All his days they did not depart from following the Lord God of their fathers.

 


 

William Tyndale – Criminal or Christian martyr?


 

A Tyndale Bible, displayed at the Bodleian Library in June 2014, photo by Steve Bennett (stevage)

A Tyndale Bible, displayed at the Bodleian Library in June 2014, photo by Steve Bennett (stevage), Wikimedia Commons.


.

Answering The Catholic Thinker

William Tyndale: Victim or Criminal?

In reality, Tyndale was a criminal, a breaker of the law. He knew very well that it was illegal to make an unauthorized translation. A look at the facts behind Tyndale’s death should scatter the notion that Catholics murdered him for simply translating the Bible, just another fanciful “history” of the Catholic Church.

Patrick E. Devens

 

File:Foxe's Book of Martyrs - Tyndale.jpg

Preparations to burn the body of William Tyndale. John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, 1563. Tyndale was strangled and then his body was burned.

 

 

With other readers I tried to defend Tyndale to Patrick. Patrick wasn’t convinced and could only see Tyndale as a criminal. Having thought this over, I’m learning at last that Protestants and Evangelicals – Bible believers – cannot win The Argument with Rome or its followers, but in spite of this fact must answer from the Word of God. Catholics will answer back with “Who gave you the Bible? We did!”, but we will have honored the Lord Jesus Christ – praise Him forever!

So here is a Biblical answer to Patrick who maintains that as a lawbreaker Tyndale deserved to be punished; and that it was the State that executed him and that the Church of Rome didn’t have much to do with this. 

Acts 5

17 But the high priest rose up, along with all his associates (that is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy. 18 They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public jail. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and taking them out he said, 20 “Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life.” 21 Upon hearing this, they entered into the temple about daybreak and began to teach.

Now when the high priest and his associates came, they called the Council together, even all the Senate of the sons of Israel, and sent orders to the prison house for them to be brought. 22 But the officers who came did not find them in the prison; and they returned and reported back, 23 saying, “We found the prison house locked quite securely and the guards standing at the doors; but when we had opened up, we found no one inside.” 24 Now when the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them as to what would come of this. 25 But someone came and reported to them, “The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!” 26 Then the captain went along with the officers and proceeded to bring them back without violence (for they were afraid of the people, that they might be stoned).

27 When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. 31 He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

33 But when they heard this, they were cut to the quick and intended to kill them.

34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time.

35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. 36 For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.”

40 They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. 41 So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.


.

Resources for studying William Tyndale, Christian Martyr

William Tyndale’s Life and Work

The History of Protestantism by ‘James Aitken Wylie, Book 23 — Protestantism in England From the Times of Henry VIII, Chapter 4 — Tyndale’s New Testament arrives in England

Read The Tyndale Bible, at Bible Study Tools